You probably heard this a million times already and you will hear it again, check your credit reports regularly. Credit card fraud and identity theft is on the rise and you don’t want to be caught with bad credit history. Banks and credit card companies have come together to help teach their clients how to prevent their personal information from being found through the garbage or on the internet. One of the best ways to prevent this is by being cautious about where you share your information and how you dispose of it.
Canadian families are bombarded with a plethora of credit card offers, bank statements, and cheques that go with their credit cards. Many people have online banking and simply toss their bank statement in the trash. Others will take their credit card offers and toss them without reading about the card or if there is any personal information on the advertisement. While many will even throw away their credit card checks because they do not want to pay the interest on the money spent through the checks. All of these actions are wrong and may lead to a ruined credit score.
There are people in the world today that make it a full time job to dive into the dumpsters and the trashcans to find valuable information that will help them commit credit card fraud in your name and/or steel your identity. These thieves will not care that they are ruining lives they just want to use your name to borrow money and get the items they want and need.
The thieves willing to commit credit card fraud and identity theft will use the important documents you threw away to get the information they need to open a credit card or gain access to your existing credit card or bank account. Identity theft is much easier than most of us would like to think. All these thieves need is your name and bank account number and they will be able to obtain the rest of the information they need to withdraw your cash or start making fraudulent purchases. Others will use the information found on the credit card offers to finish opening all of those “pre-approved” credit card applications. Once the card is activated they will be able to start making fraudulent purchases.
So what can we do? well, simply put, the best and easiest way to protect your credit for free is when you dispose of personal information, make sure that it is truly garbage. Buy a paper shredder (cross-cut shredders are best) to completely destroy personal information. If you put garbage in the bin, thieves will quickly realize they are pulling only garbage out!
Another form of credit monitoring is to pay the credit bureau to keep you informed on changes on your accounts. If you do not check your bank account regularly or you are unaware of a credit card being opened in your name you could be in a lot of trouble and not even realize it. To prevent these issues and to ensure you are protected you might want to consider getting a credit monitoring service that will send you a credit alert the moment there is a card opened in your name or there is a credit score change.